Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah and co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini have incurred a time penalty that ruined their chance of winning this year’s Qatar International Rally 2024.

The Qatari was reportedly seen driving on the road section from the fourth stage to the service area and regroup in Lusail with only three rotating wheels on his Volkswagen Polo GTi after he had collected a puncture.

Event Stewards met to discuss the matter in detail and determined that the multiple FIA Middle East Rally Champion was considered to have retired from the leg after Special Stages number four.

Earlier, Al Attiyah and Bernacchini held a slender lead of 5.6 seconds, but the 30-minute penalty for missing the remaining three stages of the loop means that the French crew of Pierre-Louis Loubet and Loris Pascaud will now take a lead.

Al Attiyah, meanwhile, plummeted to the foot of the general classification as a result of the penalty but he will restart under the Rally2 ruling this morning.

The Qatari has the right to appeal against the Stewards’ decision.